The people love him, and he’s bested us
At every argument (because he did?),
So we can see the trembling applecart
Which threatens to spill blood, not fruit, to drain
Into the Kidron Brook. He’s made us look
Like fools – the mocking laughter echoes still.
Where learning fails, then money may suffice
To rid us of this meddling carpenter.
We need a time and place to seize him, out
Of sight of crowds which might take arms and launch
The war which will destroy not only them
But us, the city, and the nation. Make
This one obscure and soon forgotten man
The sacrifice who saves the world we know.
So open up the treasury, and see
What we might offer one of his close friends
To tell us when, and where, and who he is
(Those guards pay no attention; they won’t know).
Six stacks of silver, thirty coins in all:
Yes, this may do; yes, this may serve to coax
Betrayal from a disappointed friend.
Those last two coins? The small ones? Put them back.
They only speak of humble poverty.
We deal with sacrifices and with grand
Designs; it is not fit that we should so
Betray our desperation by a pair
Of copper mites – nor does a Nazarene,
No matter how he troubles us, command
A bounty made of gold. This price will serve.
We hardly dare to hope that we will find
Our agent soon, but search we must. Let’s pray
We have our opportunity, and seize
Our carpenter, before the festival
Gets fully under way. Tomorrow night
Is much too soon to hope for and almost
Too late to make our sacrifice to Rome
Before its wrath erupts in fire and blood.
A quiet trial on this Thursday would
Ensure a Friday we will count as good.